[TL;DR Why I believe a new POS design with modules could make EVE more interesting for new players. If you don’t want to read my stream of consciousness at least go and post on this thread on the EVE forums.]
Disclaimer: When it comes to player owned starbases (POSes) I am an innocent noob. I have never owned one, I have only once used a corp POS for a research job. However, POSes are an element of the game that fascinates me and that is a goal which I am working towards since I discovered they existed as a young player.
It has been all the more frustrating to find out that the current way the system works, my corp (and most serious other nullsec corps) will not let me set up my own starbase. Because of the risk being to high. The way access rights are handled and POSes being considered as corp assets it is very difficult to protect your starbases from hostile agents as soon as you start to liberally hand out access rights. When I was told this by my directorate I was sad and disappointed
However, this issue was known since a long time by the player community and there was the promise by CCP to change this. Indeed some ideas that were coming up after the CSM summer summit were sounding even more exciting. There was talk about player owned villages or cities built out of modular POSes. This sounded awesome! Even with my limited resources I would maybe be able to have a small cubicle in space somewhere. Maybe connected to our corporate space-colony…. Nevermind if I would have to wait for this for some more.
Now it seems these visions should not be realized. And one of the reasons that is put forward (see pages 37f of the CSM winter summit minutes) is, that to few people use POSes and that especially new players would not profit from a POS revamp. I agree with CCPs assessment that if a massive undertaking such as a new starbase system only caters to a few veteran players, then this would be a bad idea. Contrary to the conclusion CCP seems to have come to, I believe player owned starbases could and should be something which on introduction is first and foremost directed at younger characters. Let the sprawling colonies of player owned modules be the new fields where we fly our internet spaceships!
CCP has apparently created a new design philosophy to develop Eve Online. This builds upon the successful iteration scheme used to do last years expansions but envisions to tie new features closer together under a specific, holistic theme. The Apocrypha expansion, which introduced wormholes into the EVE universe, seems to be a model of what direction this design process is aiming. There is even exciting talk about introducing “new environments” into EVE. That all sounds pretty reasonable. In addition CCP want to further develop the sandbox meme of EVE by providing tools for people who provide content for other players. Instigators and Enablers in the new CCPspeech. Certainly a great idea.
Actually I believe a new starbase system could very well tie all these issues together. I will here try to focus on the way a new system of player owned structures makes sense for new players. It is essentially a wish list I had and still have as a new player myself. Also, I believe that starting with the humble needs of the rookie capsuleer is a good way to start a development cycle which will continually built onto those foundations and can be spread over several releases in order to manage developer resources.
So as a young player what would I like to have? Well my own space station would not be the first thing to buy, fair enough. But a mid-term goal for the first 2 months? How would I have loved this! The sisters of EVE epic arc missions are supposed to bring you to the point where you can afford your first cruiser. Why not add another epic arc which will bring you to your first POS element? This could be little more than a container in space where I can dock or (semi-)savely store my ship. It might just get me that one research slot I was not getting on the stations because everything is blocked for weeks there. Or provide me with some storage for my new mining enterprise in that station-less system, three jumps out. There is a little upkeep I have to pay to fuel my module but the time and hassle my small “outpost” saves me more than makes up for it. I can install a special com-link to my favourite agent and receive mission instructions from the cosy confines of mu space cubicle. If mining or missioning is not my thing, I might be able to put a second attack frigate there for quick reshipping on my first days as a PvPer. Or it might me allow to do things that in the future will be forbidden in empire stations, such as trading booster drugs and selling loot acquired through illegal actions. Finally there might be a docking port which waits for modules that are coming out on a regular basis now. “My little station has a name, which is displayed written over the docking port. And it has a nice, smooth look to it that caught my eyes when I was watching that new EVE Online trailer. After all the prospect of having a little home in space was what brought me into the game.”
Soon I would discover that my small module can be much more useful when I connect it with another’s players module. Together we suddenly have the possibility to install really awesome stuff. It becomes the reason to join my first player owned corporation. They invite me to join them in their home system and as I drop out of warp I sit in awe as a sprawl of modules large and small connected by tubes of metal, glas and energy appears below my ship….
Later, having loosely connected my module to the conglomerate and chatting with my new corp mates over teamspeak I am told that the central tower which is now covered by a crust of private as well as corporate modules was won by the founders of the corporation when they had their final exam in flight academy… I am approached by colony managers, who ask me to contribute part of my module’s power resources to a corporation production line. In return I get access to a very nice refinery system. The next day a message arrives in the conglomerate communication system from Mercenary soldiers, fighting on a planet in the system and asking for support…
I could get carried away at this point. But what I am trying to say is that a new POS system with a different design approach, particularly with a modular design that implements a low entry point, allowing weeks-old players to setup shop outside of empire space stations could offer very interesting gameplay options and even draw new groups of players into the game if well marketed.
To summarize, here is a list of why modular POSes would be interesting for new players:
- Provide a nice and tangible short- to mid-term goal in your early career
- Provide a way to bring players into contact with player-run corporations
- Enable new and creative sandbox gaming for new players by handing out sandbox toys which one can use at that level and which cannot be easily snatched away by the older bullies
- Provide a sense of home and belonging
- If they are introduced gradually, they could ameliorate the biggest problem EVE is facing as a game of more than ten years age: young players feel they never can catch up to veterans. Now if I can become a space cubicle builder on the same level as that old guy over there….
- Provide a very nice and tangible marketing campaign where the art department could shine
I understand it is a big thing. But please CCP, be bold enough to do this. It is not just good for a “small portion” of EVE players. It could well be the thing that get’s you your next generation of subscribers.
Fly smart! Chira.